Matthew 12:9-21 – Is It Lawful to Cure on the Sabbath?
|| Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11
MT12:9 Leaving there Jesus went into their synagogue. MT12:10 And, look! a human with a dried-up hand! So, they asked Jesus, “Is it permissible to cure on the Sabbath?” (They asked so they might accuse him.) MT12:11 Jesus told them, “Which human among you who has a single sheep – fallen into a pit on the Sabbath – and will not grab it and pull it out? MT12:12 So, how much more different is a human from a sheep. Thus, it is permissible to do good on Sabbaths.” MT12:13 Then Jesus spoke to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And as he did his hand was restored, as sound as the other. MT12:14 But the Pharisees had turned out and they conferred against him how they might destroy Jesus. MT12:15 However, realizing this, Jesus withdrew from there. And many followed him and he cured them all. MT12:16 Jesus cautioned them not to make him manifest MT12:17 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled, MT12:18 “Look! My servant-boy whom I chose, My beloved in whom My soul delights! Upon him I will place My Pneuma. He will announce justice to the nations. MT12:19 He will not quarrel, nor yell, nor will any hear his [raised] voice in public streets. MT12:20 He will not crush a bruised reed, nor smother a flickering [candle] wick – until he sends forth victorious justice. MT12:21 And in his name nations will hope.” [Isaiah 42:1-4]
Jesus healing the withered hand
 Dried-up hand: KJV: withered; WEY: shriveled; TAY: deformed.
 Is it permissible to cure on the Sabbath: Or, allowable, lawful. This issue becomes a point of contention with the Pharisees. At the root of it is law versus human kindness and charity. There are those religious persons who would pile rules upon rules but are not characterized by kindness and charity.
 Sheep: Sheep are Jesus’ favorite animal. They occur 35 times in the Gospels mainly in Matthew (11) and John (20). Most of the great men of the Bible were somehow associated with sheep in one way or another. Abel possibly sacrificed one. Noah saved their whole kind. Abraham herded them and one replaced his son. Moses went searching for a lost sheep and found Yehowah. Jesus saves all the sheep to everlasting life.
 How much more different: Jesus has used a similar comparison before – between sparrows and his disciples (Matthew 10:31).
 Permissible to do good: We can only imagine the tone in his voice, the look in his eyes, the warm slight smile, as he said this to those in the synagogue. It is always lawful to do good. Paul is to echo the same idea at Galatians 5:22, 23.
 Stretch out your hand: This alone is an act of faith and we see on the man’s face expectant confidence. There is a similar story in the apocryphal book Gospel to the Hebrews. There the man explains himself: “I was a stone mason, seeking my living with my hands. I pray you, Jesus, to give me back my health, so that I shall not need to beg for food in shame.”
 The Pharisees: The evil plot begins which is to be fulfilled a year later. “Destroy” is also rendered: GDSP: to put him to death; PME: get rid of him altogether. See notes on Matthew 3:7.
 Jesus withdrew: The Nazarene follows his own counsel to his apostles (Matthew 10:16, 23).
 Jesus cautioned them: This is something Jesus does often usually with the result that the news spreads even more.
 Isaiah: The quotation is from Isaiah 42:1-4. The work by Archer and Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament: a Complete Survey, observes: “This is a classic case of the independence of the LXX on Matthew’s part.” (pages 112-3)
 So that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: The quotation explains Jesus’ caution not to tell others.
 My: Yehowah.
 Servant-boy: See notes on Matthew 8:6. Yehowah refers to His Son as His “boy” or servant. Compare Acts 4:27 (PAIDA) and Acts 4:29 (DOULOIS = slaves).
 My beloved: The original context deals with the Persia king Cyrus, the instrument of Yehowah in delivering the Jews from Babylon. He is a Messiah-type for Jesus as Matthew’s inspired application shows.
 Upon him I will place My Pneuma: It is Yehowah who “places” or puts His spirit upon His servant-boy. On Pneuma see Matthew 1:18. PNEUMA means breath or wind in Greek – an invisible pressure. Paul compares pneuma to the “mind of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:16; Isaiah 40:13)
 Announce justice: Or, TCNT: announce a time of judgment; MOF: proclaim religion to the Non-Jews; LAM: preach justice to the people.
 He will not quarrel: Or, KJV: not strive; MOF: not wrangle.
 Nor yell: Or, MOF: shout; ASV: cry aloud. The Messiah quietly goes about his work and let this be the means of conviction – not emotional Hitlerian oratory. William Barclay puts it: “In Jesus there is the quiet, strong serenity of one who seeks to conquer by love, and not by strife of words.” (page 24, Volume 2, The Gospel of Matthew)
 Voice in public streets: The screaming street-corner evangelist was not the Nazarene’s method, nor that of any of his disciples.
 Crush a bruised reed: Or, WEY: crush reed; GDSP: bent reed. Compare notes on Matthew 11:7. The Messiah is gentle and will do nothing to further injure a faith so weak. It is possible the “bruised reed” was the man in the synagogue with the withered hand. A hardened reed could be used as a measuring rod or a whipping stick.
 Smother a flickering [candle] wick: Or, KJV: smoking flax shall not quench; NEB: nor snuff out the smouldering wick; MON: the dimly burning wick. Rather, the Lord holds his palms around the meager light to protect it from wind.
 Until he sends forth victorious justice: Or, KJV: send forth judgment unto victory; RHM: urge on Justice to victory; TCNT: brought the judgment to a victorious issue; WEY: led on justice to victory; BAS: made righteousness overcome all; KNX: until the time he crowns his judgment with victory. Old Testament Quotations suggests: “Conceivably the establishment of God’s perfect justice on earth is to be understood as involving a conquest or subduing of mankind in order to render them obedient to the Lord’s judgment.” (page 115)
 In his name nations will hope: This idea would have been thought a miracle – that one day the nations or Non-Jews would hope in Jesus’ name. If Pilate had been told that in three centuries the official religion of Rome would be Christianity and that Caesar would be a Christian himself – it would have been laughable. As we approach the year 2,000 every nation on earth – every land, every island, every language among mankind – has believers and disciples who hope in the name Jesus. The truth of this prophecy is realized first with Cornelius (Acts chapter 10).
Matthew 11:7-15 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 3 John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal
Matthew 12:1-8 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Something Greater than the Temple
Paul’s warning about false stories and his call to quit touching the unclean thing
- Did You Know?
- Matthew 12丨John Calvin
- ‘to do good’ ….. mentioned in the Holy Bible (KJV)
- “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” (Minor Myers Jr.)